Ancient Pigments

Communicating with symbols

The flattened areas on these hematite (left) and limonite (right) pieces of pigment are signs of grinding or rubbing, telling us that they were held and used like chunky crayons. With pigments, our ancestors marked objects and possibly their own skin. Colors were symbols by which they identified themselves and their group.

Hematite Crayon, Twin Rivers, Zambia
Limonite Crayon, Twin Rivers, Zambia
Ancient Pigments
Exhibit item
Date of discovery: 
1996
Discovered by: 
Larry Barham
Age: 
250,000 years old
Site: 
Twin Rivers, Zambia